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Le Chevalier Vert: Roman
Iris Murdoch
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Le Chevalier Vert: Roman

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  1,168 Ratings  ·  86 Reviews
Though it starts slowly, this philosophical novel soon envelops the reader in a Byzantine plot that weaves around nine characters. Peter Mir, the "Green Knight" of the title, is nearly killed when he intervenes to protect Clement Graffe from being murdered by Graffe's half-brother, Lucas. Mir mysteriously reappears and demands reparation from Lucas, provoking various respo ...more
559 pages
Published 1996 by Gallimard (first published 1993)
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Apr 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An unforgettable book by a brilliant author. But how to describe it? I can't do better than begin with this from another Goodreads reviewer: "Clement is in love with Louise. Louise's husband is dead. Everyone thinks Moy is in love with Clement, but she is in love with Harvey. Harvey thinks he's in love with one sister, but he's actually in love with another sister. One sister is in love with Lucas. Lucas is Clement's brother. Lucas tried to kill Clement. But he actually killed Peter Mir. Only, P ...more
Sarah Beaudoin
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I always experience a mix of emotion when I reread a beloved book. Excitement that I'm going to spend hours with something I've proven to love but at the same time trepidation that for some reason, the story will fail to captivate me as much as previously. Sometimes I am lucky enough to find that, upon rereading, I find I love the book even more than I did originally. Such is the case with The Green Knight.

The Green Knight traces the lives of a group of people loosely arranged as a family more
Throughly caught up in the dramas of Lucus and Clement and their brush with murder, also Bellamy's wish to become a monk. Enjoy Iris's way with words. So far so good.

Finished. Iris weaves a good story, was unable to stop reading. One flaw though, one of the characters dies suddenly and I suspect that Iris just killed him off to finish the story as no other character actually questions why he died or how he died. And so while the other characters have resolutions to their problems the catalyst (
Nov 14, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
3.5 stars

Not sure where to start with this one. Here's what I liked: some of the characters, especially the Cliftonians Aleph, Sefton, and Moy; I loved their old-fashioned nature. I enjoyed the focus on a group of people rather than on any one particular person. I liked the "main" drama regarding Peter Mir and Lucas. In short, I didn't find it hard to be interested in these people and their lives. I found that the book was less about what happened than how the characters experienced it--the inne
Jul 23, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
A much paler novel than Murdoch can be at her best (as in The sea, the sea). The characters seemed to be inhabiting some earlier decade and I'm ultimately as confused as the character Clement as to how far the comparisons go to the resetting of the legend of Gawain and the Green Knight. The mysterious Peter Mirs manages to be an entrancing character and Anax the collie was heart-stealing in a non-Lassie way. Read it for the dog isn't a great recommendation, though.
Italo  Perazzoli
Dec 16, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Green Knight is the 25th novel written by the prolific Iris Murdoch, the purpose of this novel is reasoning about the connection between art and morality a first example lies at page 9:

"A picture of Remembrant: Oh yes. I always found that picture a bit soppy. isn't he supposed to be a woman? And anyway now they say it isn't by Remembrandt. But seriously, are they in love?

Looking at this painting we can say that the art is immoral because we are considering the knight as a woman and not as ma
I picked up this book because of the title's allusion to Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and I haven't read anything by Murdoch before. I set out with high expectations as I commenced reading, but this has been a torturous read. I love descriptive writing, but Murdoch goes overboard in describing every minutiae there is, and the semi-stream of consciousness description of the characters' thoughts after awhile annoyed me. How many times am I to read a character's overly melodramatic mental musing ...more
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Iris Murdoch writes about a London in which young people in the 1990s wear vests, woolly tights and pyjamas, sing madrigals, exclaim, "Good Heavens!" and "Oh Lord!", and don't watch TV. It's very strange, but endearing - her London is the London we all know, same river, same places, same landmarks, but an oddly different zeitgeist - like a parallel universe version of London.

If you can suspend astonishment and accept this, then you're in for another cracking good read - a plot that's too good to
Jul 03, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I have read around in the Green Knight. It is one of those books I began not to trust and so went to the ending and read backwards. The large array of characters are fascinating, but also unreal in their actions and attitudes. The philosophical talk is charming and thoughtful, but because the author provides detailed descriptions of the characters without allowing examination of those characters in conflict, I developed little of the attachment to them that I would have had I seen their personal ...more
Aug 25, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The only Murdoch I've read so far is this novel and "The Unicorn," but her stories, though vaguely set in the "present" day, operate on a seemingly timeless plane. I read a few comments questioning the realism of the dialogue, especially that between the young adult characters of this novel--certainly a valid observation--but I think that the titles of her novels serve to place the book in some semi-mythical place that requires a certain suspension of disbelief. The philosophical themes and myth ...more
The action seems to turn around an attempted murder of a half-brother by his jealous sibling, and the return to life of the actual victim, a man who attempted to intervene but received a nearly fatal blow to the head. But a very interesting part of the story is how this is variously seen through the eyes of three precocious sisters - each extraordinary in her own way. These girls/young women are somewhat anxiously approaching the end of their lively but sheltered girlhood. They've been happy, an ...more
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my favorites that I re-read every few years. The setting is contemporary but doesn't feel 'real'. Many complain that the dialogue and characters don't seem realistic but they aren't meant to. This isn't realist literature. May as well complain that Monet's 'Water Lilies' are all blurry. As well the plot centres around a 'murder mystery' but most of the book is not directly focused on this plot, much more is on character and inward meaning.
The book starts with two ladies chatting about people that don't seem to matter much.
Regrettably, that's enough to turn me off...
If it starts like that what are the chances of it getting better?
Stephen Brody
Oct 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Come, there are disagreements which divide even the gods.”

“Men will love a monster if he has bella figura.”

“The study of history is menaced by fragmentation…. Such fragmentations opens a space for false prophets, old and new. Not only the shades of Hegel and Marx and Heidegger, but also those, you know who I mean, who would degrade history into what they call fabulation….Above all be aware of a relaxed determinism which haunts our increasingly scientific and technological civilization …. Anothe
Mark Lemmon
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An observation:
In editing a movie, we try to eliminate as much unnecessary action as possible .... action such as a character walking up a long sidewalk and entering a house ... never mind all that ... cut to character as they come IN through the front door ... "shoe leather", it is referred to as ... Murdoch's book contains a lot of "shoe leather' ... and, surprisingly Murdock makes it work. This makes an motion picture editor ponder if that isn't something that might re-considered in editing
I'd never read anything by Iris Murdoch. Probably not her most representative work, as it was near the end of her career.
Aug 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Murdoch brings together a wide net of characters who are as enjoyable as they are irritating and often enough enjoyable because they are irritating. She weaves this cast around the pliable structure of the Sir Gawain and the Green Knight story. But this book does not only draw from the Arthurian tale, but from paintings and other sources of art, using ekphrasis as a mode of story telling. The use of art in the story is not without examination. For instance, one scene recreates the Leda and the S ...more
Dec 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Iris Murdoch’s last grand curtain call.

Everyone gets a nod, Wittgenstein, Ekhart, Beowulf, Hamlet, Goethe in a novel set against her London backdrop - we even get the Sea! Her intellectual recall is astounding, with mature themes explored alongside a giddy mix of eccentric characters and a plot that crackles.

The shear brilliance of this novel makes her fall into the fog of Alzheimer’s so shortly after its completion all the more tragic. IM was at the stellar height of her considerable imaginativ
Aug 26, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: just-fiction
This was a difficult book to soldier through. It sure was literary, though!

It was interesting, but ultimately too bizarre for me to enjoy. There were unusual takes on the Cain and Abel story, the Transfiguration, the death and resurrection of Jesus, etc....but so twisted and/or incomplete as to render this story just...odd.

I do think her writing could be improved by some serious editing out of extraneous (it didn't move the story along at all) daily detail. Example: Iris gives us the exact seati
Sep 11, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still not sure what to make of this book. Given the title and the source of the recommendation (to me), I was expecting something of an out-and-out fantasy novel. Nothing doing. This novel tells the story of a couple of families and groups of friends, apparently in modern day England. I say apparently, because although they have cars and cell phones, the dialogue, descriptions, and the things people choose to talk about read like a Victorian novel. The book held my interest -- some character ...more
Jul 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
To some extent this book perplexed me. My motivation for reading it was because it was by Iris Murdoch and I was curious about her work. I read inside the front cover that besides having been at Oxford and later Cambridge and later having taught philosophy for many years, she was an author of many books from different genres. The early pages caught my interest quickly although I didn't really understand what was going on so I decided to plow on. By the time I thought I understood, the mood chang ...more
At first I asked this novel, Who is the Green Knight, the character who will be an equivalent of the Sir Gawain story?

I then asked the novel, Even if we have a stand in for Gawain's Green Knight, which is debatable, does that mean that there needs to be a 1-1 correlation between characters in the medieval story to characters in the Murdoch novel?

Then the novel seemed to ask me, If I blatantly refer to the Gawain/Green Knight tale, does that belittle any comparisons you'd like to make between the
Apr 05, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I quite enjoyed this one-although my exhausted state of mind meant I should have waited to read it when I was more relaxed and better able to concentrate, it was too heavy for my tired brain. Therefore it took me a while to get into it. I actually found after the first 70 or 80 pages - the story really got going. The middle part of the novel is fast paced and really hard to put down. However the novel may be a bit over long.
The story concerns a group of people, connected to Lucas Graffe, and an
Feb 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I couldn't even get half-way through this book. The story, backstory, side-stories just plod along. It's almost like literally you're a god watching over ever minute detail of these lives. When it started on the dogs' point of view I was done. This book is too full of itself. And I have an English degree!
Clement is in love with Louise. Louise's husband is dead. Everyone thinks Moy is in love with Clement, but she is in love with Harvey. Harvey thinks he's in love with one sister, but he's actually in love with another sister. One sister is in love with Lucas. Lucas is Clement's brother. Lucas tried to kill Clement. But he actually killed Peter Mir. Only, Peter Mir isn't dead! Peter Mir is our beloved Green Knight, beheaded but still among the living. Who is Sir Gawain? Was there ever really a Ga ...more
Debbie Combs
My first Iris Murdoch read. Although it is set in present day London it reads like a turn of the century English novel. The characters are all quite strange as is the plot. It was interesting but it doesn't inspire me to read more by Murdoch. Very quirky.
Henry Branson
Sep 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you were going to recommend one Iris Murdoch novel, to someone who had never read any, which summed up her work, this might be it!

A large cast of intellectual and eccentric characters - check!
Not one but two enigmatic sorcerers - check!
An ethical dilemma at the heart of the novel - check!
Key scene by the sea - check!

Although it is sometimes frustrating that so many of her characters are drawn from the public school/Oxbridge/privileged/upper middle class slice of England that she occupied, the
I always enjoy reading Iris Murdoch - her characters are never types, always unusual, always textured and multifaceted - and yet she doesn't really write a 'realistic' novel. I might almost call The Green Knight particularly fanciful, but it's still got honest emotion to it and, as always, Murdoch does an excellent job of exploring the fickle human heart and the ways people often create mysteries of themselves to themselves, of the ways we dissemble to others, rely on pretense and habit in relat ...more
May 22, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Renato introduced me to Iris Murdoch with this book, and I really enjoyed it, though it's nearly impossible to explain why or how. The plot basically follows a group of two upper middle class families and their close friends in England. There's a murder, a mysterious stranger who inserts himself in their lives, and lots of metaphysical/mythical allusions and activities. Murdoch manages the large cast well, with great dialogue and crisp prose with an undercurrent of dry humor. Only major complain ...more
Oh this was a fascinating and frustrating book. At first, it felt quite like A.S. Byatt - erudite, complex, with a wide cast. About 1/3 of the way through, though, the intellectual content ceased to do anything *new*, and I grew frustrated with all of the characters. I was particularly irritated by the fact that none of them seemed to have any *work*. Except for the aberrant character of Lukas, no one actually did any work, even those who had jobs. Sefton studied, but we only found out about it ...more
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Summary 1 5 Nov 12, 2013 04:53PM  
  • Babel Tower
  • Iris Murdoch: A Life
  • Aka
  • The Hearts and Lives of Men
  • Under the Autumn Star
  • Iris: A Memoir of Iris Murdoch
  • Elle et lui
  • English Music
  • Of Love and Hunger
  • Ancient History: A Paraphase
  • La Duchesse De Langeais
  • Magnetism (Great Loves, #12)
  • Lelia: The Life of George Sand
  • The Far Field
  • The Bridge
  • The Thing about Thugs
  • The Major Works
  • The Sin Eater
Dame Jean Iris Murdoch

Irish-born British writer, university lecturer and prolific and highly professional novelist, Iris Murdoch dealt with everyday ethical or moral issues, sometimes in the light of myths. As a writer, she was a perfectionist who did not allow editors to change her text. Murdoch produced 26 novels in 40 years, the last written while she was suffering from Alzheimer disease.

"She w
More about Iris Murdoch...
“The theatre is a tragic place, full of endings and partings and heartbreak. You dedicate yourself passionately to something, to a project, to people, to a family, you think of nothing else for weeks and months, then suddenly it's over, it's perpetual destruction, perpetual divorce, perpetual adieu. It's like éternel retour, it's a koan. It's like falling in love and being smashed over and over again.’
'You do, then fall in love.’
'Only with fictions, I love players, but actors are so ephemeral. And then there’s waiting for the perfect part, and being offered it the day after you've committed yourself to something utterly rotten. The remorse, and the envy and the jealousy. An old actor told me if I wanted to stay in the trade I had better kill off envy and jealousy at the start.”
More quotes…